An interview with
Conducted by Randy "Moonstonelover"
August 9, 2004
MSL: Are you still on Nightwing after issue 100?
DEVIN GRAYSON:Yes, but before we get ahead of
ourselves, let’s talk about 100 for sec. Issue 100 is
double-sized and it wraps up what is essentially two years of
story line, kicking off events that will be impacting the book
for all of 2005. Don’t miss it!
MSL: Who, in your view, does Tarantula see herself as,
in relation to Nightwing?
DEVIN GRAYSON:She has a crush on him and she loves the
idea of being a partner or even sidekick to him. The problem
is, she doesn’t know him well enough to realize how
shell-shocked he is right now, and she’s sort of
misinterpreting his current emotional haze for actual approval
of and general compliance with her will.
She knows he’s still in love with Barbara and that he’s a
bad bet for her romantically over the long haul, but she’s
determined to keep him around as long as she can. And in that
wish, at least, I think we can sympathize with her.
MSL: Issue 100, or there after,you have said someone is
coming back into Dick's life, obviously you won't name
them...but can you narrow the gender down, folks assume it
will be female...can you comment?
DEVIN GRAYSON: Actually, it’s a he. And just remember
when you see the solicitation for issue 101 that I told you
you’d all be happy to see him again. ;-)
MSL:You have stated you love writing the character
Nightwing, but in the future what character would you love to
write...for DC or for Marvel?
DEVIN GRAYSON:I didn’t read comics growing up and when
I finally got into them, my initial interest was pretty
focused on the Bat-group. Batman, Nightwing, Robin and the
rest of the Gotham/Blüdhaven gang are pretty much the sole
reason I came to comics, and I feel incredibly lucky to have
been able to be immediately associated with my final goal.
On the other hand, it’s always a tremendous pleasure to
learn about new characters and you almost can’t help falling
in love with them once you get going – I really became nuts
over Scott and Jean when I was writing X-Men: Evolution, for
example, and would love to do more with them – and of course
it’s also always exciting to invent and work with your own
characters. So there’s lots more I’m excited about doing, but
as far as characters go, my heart will always be in the
MSL:Batman 12 cent War Games is out...how was it
decided to get you do write the opening chapter to War Games?
DEVIN GRAYSON:We got together for a Bat-summit as we
normally do before embarking on a big stunt like this, and
this time I was the veteran of the Bat-writers. I expressed
interest in it at one point and had good notes on what had to
be accomplished in it, and when Bob Schreck and the rest of
the Bat-book editorial team were attaching writers to
stunt-related issues, that’s where they put me.
MSL:In these big bat crossovers, whose voice carries
more weight in determining what happenes and how it impacts a
very closely knit group of characters that appear in a lot of
DEVIN GRAYSON:That completely depends on the
temperament of the editorial team and even, to some extent, on
the personality of the writers involved. When you have someone
like Greg Rucka in a summit meeting, for example – a natural
leader who’s very passionate about the characters and very
experienced with the trajectory of crime stories – you tend to
end up with a creative point person.
On the other hand, when you have an editor who’s excited
about an idea (or, for that matter, controlling and bad at
delegation), then it tends to become very editorially driven.
Obviously, DC’s publisher, Paul Levitz, has final say on the
content of the stunt, with Dan Didio (or before Dan, Mike
Carlin) setting down the law even before it gets up to Paul,
and no matter what a writer wants to do, an editor can always
over ride it, but usually there’s room for everyone’s ideas.
This War Games cross over was the first time I’ve ever seen
editorial have a basic outlined prepared before getting any
input from the writers, but every event has a unique origin
and a unique execution.
MSL:Male rape is a topic rarely touched on in comics.
Why is it suited to bring it into Nightwing?
DEVIN GRAYSON:For the record, I’ve never used the word
“rape,” I just said it was nonconsensual (I know, aren’t
writers frustrating? *smiles*), but I think Nightwing is
suited to cover any topic rooted in human behavior. The Batman
characters are unique in that they’re not super powered –
they’re extraordinary people who devote themselves to
operating effectively in a very dangerous realm of human
existence – crime and injustice and even, very often, mental
illness. They are in constant physical danger, to the point
that as readers we don’t even always respond to that anymore
because we assume they’ll eventually be okay.
I think sometimes it’s more rewarding to put them in
emotional or social peril of one kind or another, situations
which challenge them as people as well as as superheroes.
MSL:(Question by dmb1991)Will we be getting a reaction
to Dick's rape anytime soon? Ever since it occurred the
audience hasn't been privy to NW's thoughts, and I was really
hoping you could flesh out that event in Dick's life. and I'm
really hopping there will be an educating story to follow.
DEVIN GRAYSON:That’s very perceptive of you to notice
that we lost Dick’s narration! That was very intentional –
he’s so broken down at this point that he’s gone quiet inside.
I think if you read through issue 100, you’ll see some of the
response you’ve been waiting for, but remember, too, that
events in superhero comics are often as much allegorical as
actual – that is, we’re not doing a public service
announcement here, we’re telling an ongoing, multi-layered
story about one individual finding himself at an emotional
rock bottom he doesn’t know how to fight his way out of.
MSL:Will the ramifications of that carry over to other
Bat books...or will it just stay in the confines of Nightwing
DEVIN GRAYSON:Blockbuster’s murder will certainly have
ramifications throughout the Bat-universe. Dick and Catalina’s
relationship stays mostly in Nightwing, but because of the
upcoming crossover, you will seem both of them in some of the
MSL:How closely tied is Nightwing to the other
titles...it seems that Nightwing has become an island unto
itself, despite the close ties... will this be changing in the
DEVIN GRAYSON: There are sort of two different
questions here. One is about Nightwing the series and the
other is about Nightwing the character. As a character,
Nightwing will always remain closely tied to the other
Bat-characters. As a series, the book is run fairly
independently, as are most of the titles. Except for
crossovers, when we work really hard to merge all the
continuities into one seamless story, you have to understand
that it’s impractical for editorial and the individual
creators to coordinate with each other about every story line.
I know it’s great and exciting when a whole bunch of stories
converge, and DC as a whole will be moving towards a more
unified universe in the very near future. But the reason we
put out so many Bat-titles a month is so everyone can find
something that interests them, a version of the mythology to
which they can connect. If you tie everything together, you’re
really kind of just getting one version of the mythos, and if
you happen not to like the style or insights of the writer or
editor in control of corralling everyone else, then you’re out
It’s also not good for writers, as creators, to be
constantly told what their stories are going to be about. I
think the cross over events are great times to experience the
rush of interlocking continuity and cooperative creativity,
but I also think you get better quality writing when you let
writers do their own thing in their own books. That said, Gail
and I were both up late last night online, so watch for
upcoming plot coordination between Nightwing and BoP!
MSL:The internet, sadly, is full of folks talking with
no facts to back them up or spreading rumors and lies. Are
there some truths about yourself or your work you want to "set
the record straight" on?
DEVIN GRAYSON:Fortunately, I don’t even know what the
rumors are, and unfortunately, nothing I say or do will
convince people who want to believe otherwise of anything. I
think if you read the interviews on my website or, god forbid,
read my actual work, you’ll get a pretty good idea of who I
really am. I also recommend spending energy gossiping about
family or real celebrities instead of comic writers. Writers
are pretty boring; we spend most of our time in home offices
frowning at computer monitors.
MSL:Out of the earlier bodies of work you have done,
which is the one you are happiest with? Why?
DEVIN GRAYSON:Probably USER, just because the story is
so personal to me (and the art, of course, is amazing). The
thing that makes me happiest, though, is glancing at the
entire collection. It feels good to know you have that many
stories in you, even if they aren’t all great.
MSL:WORD ASSOCIATION-I will toss a word, reply with the
first thing that comes to your mind, it can be anything from a
one word reply to a full page reply.... Batman...
DEVIN GRAYSON:Urbanity co-opted. Shadow hero. Heroism
can come from our darkest places as well as from our
brightest. Self-mastery. Integrity. Dependability.
DEVIN GRAYSON:Delphi. Data. Stunning, warm, whip-smart.
Red hair lit by pale-green monitor glow. Safety.
DEVIN GRAYSON: Hairy. Greg Brady. Death Valley.
DEVIN GRAYSON:Must. Finish. Script.
DEVIN GRAYSON: Must. Finish. Script.
MSL:State of comics today
DEVIN GRAYSON: The first thing I always think when
someone says “life” is “and bits of egg…” which is from an old
DEVIN GRAYSON: Chemicals.
DEVIN GRAYSON: …to tyrants!
MSL:A few Misc. questions now...Favortite color?
DEVIN GRAYSON: Green.
MSL:Favorite Tv Shows.
DEVIN GRAYSON: The Shield. The Wire. Third Watch. Six
Feet Under. Queer Eye. The West Wing. The Surreal Life.
M*A*S*H. Anything on Court TV.
DEVIN GRAYSON: Way too numerous to list. I have a 51 CD
holder that I usually have set on “random.” Right now it’s
1) Incubus “A crow left of the murder” 2) David Bowie
“Reality” 3) Coldplay “A Rush of Blood” 4) Elton John
“Greatest Hits 1970-2002” 5) Wilco “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” 6)
Radiohead “Hail to the Thief” 7) The Eels “Shootenanny!” 8)
Annie Lennox “Bare” 9) The Clash “The Essential Clash” 10)
Tori Amos “Scarlet’s Walk” 11) The Strokes “Is this it” 12)
Biff Naked “I Bificus” 13) Evanescence “Fallen” 14) Creed
“Weathered” 15) Beth Orton “Day Breaker” 16) Liz Phair “Exile
in Guyville” 17) P.J. Harvey “Songs from the City” 18) Eminem
“The Enimem Show” 19) Papa Roach “LoveHateTragedy” 20) The
Crystal Method “Tweekend” 21) Linkin Park “Hybrid Theory” 22)
Aimee Mann “Lost in Space” 23) Foo Fighters “One by One” 24)
Skelter (demo) 25) Godsmack “Faceless” 26) Ben Folds “Rockin’
the Suburbs” 27) Gorillaz 28) David Sylvian “Secrets of the
Beehive” 29) Travis “The Man Who” 30) Ocean Colour Scene
“Moseley Shoals” 30) Peter Gabriel “Up” 31) Mary J. Blige
“Share my world” 32) Peter Himmelman “Stage Diving” 33) The
Color Black (demo) 34) Skunk Anansie “”Stoosh” 35) L7 “The
Beauty Process” 36) Smallville “The Soundtrack” 37) Kate Bush
“The Whole Story” 38) The White Stripes “White Blood Cells 39)
Portishead “Dummy” 40) TLC “Fanmail” 41) Bowery Electric
“Lushlife” 42) Everything But The Girl “Temperamental” 43)
Sheryl Crow “The Globe Sessions” 44) Spoon “Kill the
Moonlight” 45) Garbage “Beautifulgarbage” 46) Macy Gray “The
Id” 47) Trapt 48) Sarah McLachlan “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy”
49) Cirrus “Counterfeit” 50) Audioslave 51) Nightwing “82–93”
(Points of Authority – Linkin’ Park * Untouchable – Garbage *
Soldier – Eminem * Freak Show – Ani DiFranco * Set the House
Ablaze – The Jam * Lovehatetragedy – Papa Roach * Goin’ Down –
Godsmack * Bad News – Aimee Mann * Fight Song – Marilyn Manson
* Scum of the Earth – Rob Zombie * Aerosmith - Line Up *
Falling to Pieces – Faith No More * Begging You – Stone Roses
* Freedom Fighter – Creed * All My Life – Foo Fighters * A
Rush of Blood to the Head – Coldplay * Over the Line – The
Crystal Method * Maggie May – Suzanne Vega * The Warmth –
Incubus* Dust – Elvis Costello * Karma Police – Radiohead)
DEVIN GRAYSON: “Life is not about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself.”
Also fond of “reality is not what it seems, nor is it
MSL:(Following questions from Irn12) With AIDS still a
major issue in our world, wouldn't it be more responsible to
write characters that promote abstinance, rather than sexual
DEVIN GRAYSON:Not from an artistic point of view.
Though I’m dedicated to the goal of finding a cure for AIDS in
our lifetime and spend quite a bit of time and money on
several organizations that do everything from improve the
quality of life for those living with HiV to funding research
to find vaccines and cures, I don’t think superhero comic
books are an appropriate medium for health education.
By your logic, wouldn’t it also be more responsible to
write characters that avoid gunfire, eschew violence, and
practice pacifism? That’s just not who these characters are.
They’re intensely physical people who work through conflict
with their bodies. The moral responsibility when writing is to
tell the truth about human nature and the world it exists in,
even in the most fantastical scenarios. Also, just to give you
a quick glimpse into the absurdity that is contemporary comic
publishing morality, we are not allowed to show condom packets
in code books, even though we can pretty much show sex as long
as it’s not graphic.
MSL:Could you write Nightwing less
Batmanish(dark,obsessive) and more Robinish(bright,balanced)?
Why or why not? How do you see Nightwing written now(in
relation to the above scale)?
DEVIN GRAYSON: I can write Nightwing any way my editor
tells me to. Right now, we’re finishing up a very dark, heavy
storyline, and clearly Dick’s responding with a lot of
“Batmanish” moodiness. At his core, I think the character is
more “Robinish,” and although it will take him a while to get
there, I think it will be a very satisfying point in the story
when Dick finally re-emerges as a brighter, happier, more
balanced individual. The nature of stories is to set up and
resolve conflict. We’re just not at the resolution stage with
this story yet, and I apologize if it’s taking too long. That
may have been a miscalculation on my part, I was really hungry
for a long, explorative, character-intensive story line and
may have over-estimated the average reader’s patience with
MSL:(Following questions from Icon) You're instructed
by DC Editorial to write the issue where Nightwing dies. How
would you write it?
DEVIN GRAYSON: Sulkily. But I’d want his death to be
heroic, and I’d want to spend a lot of time looking at how
much impact he’s had on almost everyone in the DCU. It would
actually be a good story if everyone thought he was dead, and
you got to really see how every individual character responds
to that. Dick’s relationships are usually intensely personal
as well as professional, and he’s pretty much universally
respected. Of course, we’d have to bring him back almost
immediately, but comics, in case you haven’t noticed, are a
pretty safe place to die. ;-)
MSL: Have you ever been stopped from using a guest
DEVIN GRAYSON:Oh, sure, many times. Hell, when I was on
Titans I would sometimes be stopped form using central cast
members! Usually it’s just because that character is
temporarily tied up elsewhere, and if you’re patient, you can
borrow them later.
MSL: Which issue would you completely rewrite given a
DEVIN GRAYSON: Probably not so much any one individual
issue as the pacing of longer arcs. Oh, wait, no there was a
Batman Annual I did one year that never gelled for me. I’d
love to tackle that one again.
MSL: What superpower would you want most?
DEVIN GRAYSON: Imitative morphing, like what Mystique
does. I already do that in my head, so it’d be incredible to
be able to do that bodily, too.
MSL: Where do you see yourself, professionally, in ten
DEVIN GRAYSON: Working more on prose, probably. I
really loved writing the Smallville novel, CITY, and my
initial writing training was all in prose format
story-telling, so I imagine doing more of that in the future,
though not necessarily with a sci-fi bent. I’m also an avid
role-play gamer, and seem to be picking up more and more work
associated with that industry, which I enjoy.
MSL:(Following questions by dmb1991) Ms. Grayson, I
believe you've said in past interviews that you get this kind
of question a lot, but I'm really curious about how this story
line will play out. I understand that the arch is not
complete, and I have no trouble with an author putting
fictional characters in traumatic experiences. However, I'm
having some trouble assigning meaning to the current story. So
far Dick has been dumped, had his childhood memories burned,
suffered the destruction of his home, lost numerous friends,
and eventually was raped after becoming an accomplice to
You've said before that you're tearing him down to build
him up again, but I think I've lost the moral or theme to this
part of the story. What exactly is going through Dick's mind?
Is this half just a tale about loss or is there something
deeper that I'm missing?
DEVIN GRAYSON: I really wish we could have this
discussion after issue 100, because then I could see if you
felt that any of your questions were answered in the normal
course of the story, which is of course always the goal. This
is meant to be a story about heroism and identity – how do we
respond heroically (if that’s our default or aspired-to
setting) when we lose all indication of our heroic identity?
How do people who are normally motivated by external actions
motivate themselves internally when the external becomes
damaged or unreliable? And most significantly, how do we get
to the place where we could, and then come back from,
committing an act that goes against the entire nature of our
personal (and socially reinforced) code?
A lot of the terrible events Dick’s been through recently
were in place partly to push him into a corner where he could,
in the heat of the moment, make a moral miscalculation, a
slip, that would end up threatening his entire sense of self.
What happened with Catalina immediately following that was
almost an allegorical physical possession – he’d already gone
against the nature of his soul, and then his body is sort of
used against his will. This interview seems to be focusing a
lot on that moment, but the beat with Blockbuster is much more
significant for Dick psychically, and that’s the event, in his
mind, that was so unacceptable it shattered his own
expectations for and about himself. Now he’s trying to figure
out how to move backwards, which of course he can’t, and soon
he’ll try to figure out how to move forward.
MSL:I find the character of Black Tarantula very
intriguing. A seductress of sorts that's very good at
manipulation. Her concept was a very important part to this
saga and you planned her well. But, I'm also going to be a
little critical here because I don't see her as an intelligent
character, and my only explanation for her physical prowess is
that she's a metahuman. Thus I have trouble accepting her as
Dick's foil. This leads me to ask the bigger question: why
does she tag around with NW in general? If the ultimate plan
was to marry him so he couldn't testify against her, wouldn't
that require the police to deduce Nightwing's identity?
DEVIN GRAYSON: I think the mystery of Tarantula’s
seeming ability to best Nightwing is solved satisfyingly in
issue 100. You’ll also see her working in a slightly different
context during the crossover stunt. Remember that she was
trained by Quantico and Blockbuster, as well. And I disagree
with you about her intelligence. She isn’t wise and she isn’t
terribly well educated but she’s sharp as a tack;
street-smart, intuitive, and a fast learner.
As for why she tags around with Nightwing – she’s
completely smitten with him, and with the life he leads. He is
what she thinks she’s aspiring to become, a seasoned
professional to her ambitious amateur. All though we all
understand that she’ll never be that (she doesn’t have the
patience or the morality), she doesn’t see the inherit
conflict, and assumes that as long as she’s by his side, she’s
well on her way. And in her experience so far, he’s always
been there for her to bail her out, which is a great feeling.
She can be reckless and get in over her head and know that he
won’t let any real harm come to her – she mistakes his code
(he wouldn’t let anyone come to harm if he can help it) for
Marrying him was not an “ultimate plan,” it was an impulse,
as is almost everything she does – a rather desperate bid to
keep him close. She knows he’s too moral to walk out on a wife
without understanding that he’s too moral, ultimately, to be
with someone like her. So it occurred to her that he was
pretty depressed and pretty docile, and who knows? Maybe she
could get him to tie the knot and then she could have him for
a good, long time.
MSL:(Following questions by Ningen) Why is Tarantula
suddenly so interested in Nightwing? Does she have a hidden
DEVIN GRAYSON:I don’t think it’s sudden at all. She’s
been overwhelmed with him since their first meeting (during
which he was his usual intensely physical and stunningly
charismatic self). After the initial awe of him began to wear
off and she became more comfortable in his presence, she
became almost immediately flirtatious. And if I have to
explain to you why anyone would find Nightwing attractive and
want to be with him, um, then I guess we’re doing something
Catalina isn’t quite sneaky enough to have a hidden agenda
– she just has a strong crush on him, and she finds that
partnering up with him affords her a tremendous deal of safety
and confidence she doesn’t experience without him. The more
she gets to know him, the more she finds herself genuinely
caring about him, which is not a sentiment she’s used to
feeling, and so she’s responding a little bit like a kid –
this is good, I want more. There’s no question that she’ll
employ manipulation to keep him around as long as she can, and
what’s important to hold about her is that she doesn’t
experience this as being willfully evil – she has always had
to fight for what she wanted, and she has pretty much always
had to fight dirty.
MSL: Just what exactly is going on with Nightwing and
Oracle? They've broken up, but is that the end of the
DEVIN GRAYSON:First of all, I think it’s good and
realistic that you don’t quite know. Only in comics do people
have absolute relationships where everyone knows exactly where
they stand. Real relationships are way more complicated and
ambiguous, and they grow, change, and develop over time. As
for Dick and Babs specifically, read issue 100. Neither has
forgotten the other.
MSL:(Following question by Spikeor) What is it like to
be Dick’s brother ;)?
DEVIN GRAYSON: Ha! I’ve been accused of being many
things, but never Dick’s brother. ::grins:: I’m actually
female, so I can categorically deny that charge. ;-)
If you want to know what it’s like having Dick for a
brother, though, you could ask Timmy, who I think would give
him rave reviews. Dick is the ultimate big brother; kind,
concerned, competent, funny, playful, energetic,
compassionate, knowledgeable, protective, and wickedly loyal.
Sounds like a good deal to me!
MSL:And my final question-I have heard as a rumor Devin
Grayson is a pen name...are you able to confirm this?
DEVIN GRAYSON:More so than anyone else, except that it
isn’t true. Devin Kalile Grayson is my real and legal name.
It’s what’s on my driver’s license, passport, social security,
etc. I’ve never written under a pseudonym. I was born with a
different name, but had it legally changed in my early
twenties – well before I was working in comics or even
thinking about such – in response to sexual abuse issues in my
childhood that made me feel like I needed to distance myself
from my past a little bit psychologically. I told this to
Wizard magazine when they interviewed me for the very first
time something like seven years ago and said they could run
that as part of the story as long as they were willing to
include some phone numbers for national sexual abuse hotlines,
but they didn’t want the piece to be a “downer.”
I guess someone got the rumor into circulation without the
context, and that actually has been a little painful for me,
just since the whole idea was to move on from that part of my
life, and now I get constantly asked about it. Believe me, if
I’d known I’d be writing Bat-books someday, I would have
picked a different last name.
MSL:Thank you so much for taking the time to answer not
only my questions, but questions from other posters. Can't
wait for issue 100 and beyond!
Devin has also provided some contact information for those
dealing with sexual assault,domestic violence, and youth
counselling/support groups for those who may be faced with
these situations, these may be of help.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network - National
Sexual Assault Hotline
National Child Abuse Hotline
To learn the reporting agency for your geographic area and
Child Abuse Hotline
National Runaway Switchboard
Girls and Boys Town
A national hotline that girls and boys can call with any
problem at any time
Hearing Impaired: 1-800-448-1833
and Boys Town
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE or
National Coalition Against Sexual Assault
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